"It's Okay to Come Out Now" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward
Coming out spiritually isn't easy.
I want to share the 3 linguistic steps of progressions of spiritually coming out with you today (although these stages can be applied to all kinds of coming out):
THOUGHT LANGUAGE: THINK YOUR OWN LANGUAGE
It starts in the mind. You and I both know that our so-called "rebellion" began with our thoughts. We started to think differently. We saw we were expected to believe a certain way, and even though we complied for a very long time, the moment finally came where we had to admit we weren't believing it.
It began simply for me. I remember someone reading me a story about a man being swallowed alive by a shark and surviving after several days, and that this was proof of the story of Jonah and the whale. I remember my young mind thinking, ‚ÄúI don't believe it!‚Äù The same when my family took a trip through the States and visited the Grand Canyon and being told that sea fossils near the rim was proof of the great Flood and Noah's ark. I remember my youthful mind thinking, ‚ÄúI don't believe it!‚Äù This continued on up through my college days, seminary days, and throughout my ministry, and even to this day. When someone says something they expect me to believe, I catch my mind thinking, ‚ÄúI don't believe it!‚Äù
My own language started in my own mind.
VERBAL LANGUAGE: SPEAK YOUR OWN LANGUAGE
It took a long time for me to get to this stage. In fact, I was a married adult, really, before I allowed that nagging thought, ‚ÄúI don't believe it!‚Äù to become a verbal expression. I recall the exact moment when someone said something to me that I didn't agree with. My mind said, ‚ÄúI don't believe it!‚Äù But it was like a volcano and those words erupted all over the room. I simply said, ‚ÄúMmm‚ actually, I don't think that way anymore!‚Äù It was like I stabbed that person in the chest with a knife. Their eyes widened and their face turned red. It was very dramatic. But I said it. An argument ensued, but it was too late. I couldn't retract my words. They were out there. They pushed me away from that dock. Forever.
I know many of you are finding your own voice. You're trying it at home with your partner, your family, your friends, or at work. Others of you are writing in your blogs or other venues. Some of you are exercising your voices and finding the best way to communicate your disbelief, dissent, and disagreement. But more than that, you're finding a way to stand your ground, protect your borders, and establish your own personal language.
Yes, your own language starts in the mind, but eventually it comes out of your mouth.
BODY LANGUAGE: LIVE YOUR OWN LANGUAGE
Finally, it comes to body language. Towards the end of my time as a pastor, I clearly remember my thoughts needing to be articulated verbally. It started on my nakedpastor blog. But I remember the tension this caused in my church. Eventually, the tension became so great that I had to walk away. We all agreed that we were no longer compatible: for me to continue growing and for them to remain the same. At first it was an amicable divorce, but I had to move on. So, even though it started in my mind and was expressed through my speech, it eventually was manifested in my feet. I had to walk the talk. I had to practice what I preached. It was painful and difficult but necessary.
The fact is, this is how we eventually discover how to live a life of integrity. Jung talks about individuation: when we learn to reconcile all the parts of ourselves into one undivided individual. We come to a place where we have true integrity. It always takes time to get there. It takes a lot of courage as well. Each language level requires an extra measure of fearlessness. Our social environments work hard to prevent it, so it's like paddling upstream.
But we have to do it if we want our words to match our thoughts and our lives to match our words.
I love watching people strive to become and remain people of true integrity. I see what it costs them. But they're willing to lay it down because, as we all know, there's nothing more satisfying than feeling the unity of our own lives. It's like all the tumblers in a lock just click into place and doors open.
I encourage you to speak your own language: in your thoughts, in your words, and in your lives‚ in your brain, your mouth, and your feet.
(If you want help doing this, I provide one-on-one coaching